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Baroness Benjamin inspires students

Baroness Floella Benjamin was the speaker at this year's 'Grill Lecture'...

Baroness Floella Benjamin blazed onto the stage at Churcher’s College to give the 2022 ‘Grill Lecture’ on Thursday 12 May. She delivered an impassioned and moving story of ‘Coming to England’ from Trinidad as a child, and her continuing journey that’s led her from children’s television, all the way to the House of Lords.

There were tears, laughter and more than one song, with the Baroness holding the audience captivated with her warmth and generosity of spirit.

For those who were her ‘Playschool babies’ there was the added delight of a surprise appearance from none other than Humpty and Jemima!

Earlier in the evening she met with around 20 of Religion and Philosophy students, along with the eponymous Judy Grill, former Head of R&P at Churcher’s, in the Garden Room. Regaling them with tales of her own experiences, she was generous with her time, hugging, encouraging and championing the students; all left feeling uplifted and enthused.

The same was certainly true of the audience who gave her a standing ovation after a moving and powerful rendition of ‘Smile’; Baroness Benjamin made reference to Charlie Chaplin who wrote the original instrumental version of the song, and his experiences with being marginalised as part of the traveller community. Many of the parents, students and staff stayed after the speech for their own time with Floella, as well as photos with the much-loved, and well-preserved, Playschool toys.

Among her pearls of infinite wisdom were her ‘Three C’s’: consideration for others, contentment with your ‘lot’ and the confidence to follow your dreams.

All this, she told the students, needs to be wrapped up in courage.

It was an inspirational evening and one which has left the school buzzing. One of the students simply said: ‘Amazing, amazing, amazing!’

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